Baseball is back again, and if you believe the hype, there's never been a better time to be a Tampa Bay Rays fans.
Today's season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays is sold out, and the club is hoping that's one of many to come. The team consistently struggles to attract fans to Tropicana Field, and if it happens again this year, there can be no complaints about not having a solid product on the field.
Expectations are extremely high for the 2014 squad. Here are some things to keep an eye on this season:
World Series favorites
The Rays ran into some bad luck last year, but it seems like everything is falling into place (at least for the time being).
David Price is still in a Rays uniform. The starting rotation is locked and loaded. The lineup is strong. And despite no World Series title, the Rays have been one of the best in baseball in recent years.
Despite having the third lowest payroll in the league, they've won more games since 2008 than any other team in Major League Baseball, except the New York Yankees. And the margin between the two is just 14 games.
Many experts, including some of the folks at ESPN, are predicting the Rays will snag their first World Series title this year.
Where will Price be 1 year from now?
Heck, where will he be 3 months from now? No one knows. Not even Rays ownership knows. Price has 1 more year left with the Rays, and it's unlikely the team will pay him to stay.
So where does he go and when?
It's the trickiest of situations for the Rays, who are serious contenders for a championship and want to keep Price as long as they can. However, without considering trade offers, they'll seemingly let the best arm in baseball walk out of their organization without getting anything in return.
If the Rays slump and aren't in contention, a trade looks imminent. And even if the Rays are in contention, don't rule out a trade if they can get big league quality that can make an immediate impact.
It's no secret that Tropicana Field is not the most exciting place to go watch a baseball game, but the Rays have at least spruced it up for the 2014 season.
Fans will notice some significant changes.
The most significant is the new 360-degree walkway surrounding the lower seating area. The Rays also converted part of centerfield into an open-air gather spot called, "Porch in Centerfield."
The restaurant near the first-floor rotunda also received a makeover, no called the Everglades Brewhouse.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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